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Perhaps because we live with electricity around us every day, we tend to take it for granted. We feel we have some idea how electricity works and when it doesn’t, there are people around who know how to take care of the problem in a timely manner. Yet, this is a false sense of security. All it takes is one faulty wire or one construction misstep to deliver a jolt that can injure or kill.
Hundreds of people are injured or killed every year due to electrocution, also known as electric shock. A vast majority of these electrocutions could have been prevented. Electrocution is the second highest fatal injury on construction jobs, and defective products have been known to electrocute unsuspecting consumers.
Impact of Electric Shock
When a person comes into direct contact with electricity, the level of harm inflicted depends on what path the electrical current takes through the body, as well as the strength of the current and the location where contact takes place. If vital organs are affected by the current, serious injury can take place. Three main areas commonly damaged by electricity include:
- Skin/site of contact: Burns result from direct contact
- Nerves, muscles, tissue: Muscles, nerves, and tissue can be destroyed by electrical contact
- Heart: Electrical current can cause cardiac arrest
The type and degree of injury depends not only on the path of the electrical current, but the amount of voltage and the type of the current.
- Amount of voltage: Less than 500 volts is considered low-voltage, which does not normally cause severe injury. More than 500 volts is considered high-voltage and may cause significant injuries
- Type of current: AC, or alternating current, and DC, or direct durrent
Causes of Electrocution
Incidence of electric shock can occur on the job or at home. It is a serious work-related hazard for those working in restaurant or construction sites. Live and exposed electrical sites, metal objects near outdoor power lines, electric outlets near water, and other combinations contribute to occupational risks.
In the home, children are particularly susceptible to electric shock, especially if they are unsupervised. Though household currents are around 110 to 220 volts, and serious injuries as a result of electric shock among children are unlikely or rare, it still happens. More than 10 percent of child electrocution injuries are caused by wall outlets. Other causes of electric shock include:
- Contact with a high-voltage power line as a result of a car or construction accident
- Presence of water on the floor while using an electrical outlet, particularly in industrial plants or commercial kitchen areas
- Contact between metal and electricity, such as a ladder, or metal rail or machine contact with an exposed electrical current at construction sites
- Arc flashes from power lines
- Contact with exposed electrical sources, such as wiring or an appliance
Burns are the most obvious symptom of electric shock, but there are many other injuries that occur internally that may not be apparent. Symptoms include:
- Serious burns where contact between the victim and the electrical current took place
- Numbness or tingling
- Hearing impairment
- Heart arrhythmia
- Muscle contraction or pain
- Broken bones from point of contact or being thrown by current
- Spinal injuries or other internal injuries from being thrown by current
- Respiratory failure
- Deformity at point of contact
- Cardiac arrest
If a person has received a high-voltage shock, seek medical attention immediately. Burns should be treated and an effort made to prevent infection for lower-voltage shocks.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of electric shock in the Orlando, Florida area, please contact Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter using our online form or by calling (855) 880-4741 today.